Friday, June 1, 2018

Tips for Taxpayers Who Need to Amend a Return

Taxpayers who discover they made a mistake on their tax returns after filing can file an amended tax return to correct it. This includes changing the filing status and dependents, or correcting income, credits or deductions. The instructions for Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, list more reasons to amend a return. Taxpayers should not file an amended return to fix math errors, because the IRS will correct those.
Here are some tips on how a taxpayer amends a tax return. Taxpayers should:
  • Complete and mail the paper Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct errors to an original tax return the taxpayer has already filed. Taxpayers can’t file amended returns electronically and should mail the Form 1040X to the address listed in the form’s instructions. However, taxpayers filing Form 1040X in response to a notice received from the IRS, should mail it to the address shown on the notice.
  • Prepare Form 1040X. Many taxpayers find the easiest way to figure the entries for Form 1040X is to make the changes in the margin of the original tax return and then transfer the numbers to their Form 1040X indicating the year they are amending.  Use the second page of Form 1040X in Part III to explain the changes.
  • Know when not to amend. Aside from math errors, taxpayers also do not need to amend their return if they forgot to include a required form or schedule. The IRS will mail a request to the taxpayer, if needed.
  • Use separate forms for each tax year. Taxpayers amending tax returns for more than one year will need a separate 1040X for each tax year. Mail each tax year’s Form 1040X in separate envelopes. 
  • Wait to file for corrected refund for tax year 2017. Taxpayers should wait for the refund from their original tax return before filing an amended return. It is okay to cash the refund check from the original return before receiving any additional refund. 
  • Pay additional tax. Taxpayers filing an amended return because they owe more tax should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible. This will limit interest and penalty charges.
  • File within three-year time limit. Generally, to claim a refund, taxpayers must file a Form 1040X within three years from the date they timely filed their original tax return or within two years from the date the person pays the tax – usually April 15 – whichever is later. 
  • Track an amended return. Taxpayers can track the status of an amended return three weeks after mailing using “Where’s My Amended Return?” Processing can take up to 16 weeks.

More Information:

IRS YouTube Videos:

Plan ahead for vacation home rentals

During the summer, taxpayers often rent out their property. They usually think about things such as cleanup and maintenance, but owners also need to be aware of the tax implications of residential and vacation home rentals.
If taxpayers receive money for the use of a house that’s also used as a taxpayer’s personal residence, it generally requires reporting the rental income on a tax return.
  • Vacation Home. This may be a house, an apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat, vacation home or similar property. It's possible to use more than one unit as a residence during the year.
  • Used as a Home. When the property is used as a home, the rental expense deduction is limited. This means the rental expenses cannot be more than the rent received.
  • Personal Use. Personal use means use by the owner, owner’s family, friends, other property owners and their families. Personal use includes anyone paying less than a fair rental price.
  • Divide Expenses. Generally, special rules apply to the rental expenses of a property used by the taxpayer as a residence during the taxable year. Usually, rental income must be reported in full, and any expenses need to be divided between personal and business purposes. 
  • How to Report. Taxpayers use Schedule E to report rental income and rental expenses. Rental income may also be subject to Net Investment Income Tax
  • Special Rules. If the home unit is rented out fewer than 15 days during the year, none of the rental income is reportable and none of the rental expenses are deductible. 

More Information:

  • Tax Topic 415 – Renting Residential and Vacation Property
  • Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes)

IRS YouTube Videos:

Special Tax Benefits for Armed Forces

Members of the military and their families are often eligible for certain tax breaks. For example, members of the armed forces don’t have to pay taxes on some types of income. Special rules could also lower the tax they owe or give them more time to file and pay taxes.
No matter what time of the year, it’s good for members of the military and their spouses to familiarize themselves with these benefits. Here are some things for these taxpayers to know about their taxes:
  • Combat Pay Exclusion. If someone serves in a combat zone, part or even all of their combat pay is tax-free. This also applies to people working in an area outside a combat zone when the Department of Defense certifies that area is in direct support of military operations in a combat zone. There are limits to this exclusion for commissioned officers.
  • Deadline Extensions. Some members of the military, such as those who serve in a combat zone, can postpone most tax deadlines. Those who qualify can get automatic extensions of time to file and pay their taxes.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit. If those serving get nontaxable combat pay, they may choose to include it in their taxable income to increase the amount of EITC. That means they could owe less tax or get a larger refund.
  • Signing Joint Returns. Normally, both spouses must sign a joint income tax return. If military service prevents that, one spouse may be able to sign for the other or get a power of attorney.
  • ROTC Allowances. Some amounts paid to ROTC students in advanced training are not taxable. This applies to allowances for education and subsistence. Active duty ROTC pay is taxable. For instance, pay for summer advanced camp is taxable.

Additional IRS Resources:

IRS YouTube Videos:

Tips for teenage taxpayers starting a summer job

Now that school’s out, many students will be starting summer jobs…from working at a summer camp to being an office intern. The IRS reminds students that not all the money they earn may make it to their pocket. That’s because employers must withhold taxes from the employee’s paycheck. Here are a few things these workers need to know when starting a summer job:
  • New employees. Students and teenage employees normally have taxes withheld from their paychecks by the employer. When a taxpayer gets a new job, they need to fill out a Form W-4. Employers use this form to calculate how much federal income tax to withhold from the employee’s pay. The Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov can help a taxpayer fill out this form.
     
  • Self-employment. Students who do odd jobs over the summer to make extra cash – like baby-sitting or lawn care – are considered self-employed. They should remember that money earned from self-employment is taxable. Workers who are self-employed may be responsible for paying taxes directly to the IRS. One way to do that is by making estimated taxpayments during the year. Taxpayers who do this should keep good records of all money they receive.
     
  • Tip income. Someone working as a waiter or a camp counselor who receives tips as part of their summer income should know that tip income is taxable income and subject to federal income tax. They should keep a daily log to accurately report them, as they will report tips of $20 or more received in cash in any single month.
     
  • Payroll taxes. This tax pays for benefits under the Social Security system. While taxpayers may earn too little from their summer job to owe income tax, employers usually must still withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from their pay. If a taxpayer is self-employed, then Social Security and Medicare taxes may still be due and are generally paid by the taxpayer.
     
  • Reserve Officers' Training Corps pay. If a taxpayer is in an ROTC program, active duty pay, such as pay for summer advanced camp, is taxable. Other allowances the taxpayer may receive – like food and lodging allowances paid to ROTC students participating in advanced training - may not be taxable. The Armed Forces' Tax Guide on IRS.gov has more details.

More Information:

IRS YouTube Videos:

Tips on income taxes and selling a home

Taxpayers who sell a home may qualify to exclude from their income all or part of any gain from the sale. Below are some things taxpayers should keep in mind when selling a home:
Ownership and use. To claim the exclusion, the homeowner must meet the ownership and use tests. During a five-year period ending on the date of the sale, the homeowner must have:
  • Owned the home for at least two years.
  • Lived in the home as their main home for at least two years.
Gain. Taxpayers who sell their main home and have a gain from the sale may usually be able to exclude up to $250,000 from their income or $500,000 on a joint return. Homeowners who can exclude all of the gain do not need to report the sale on their tax return.
Loss. Taxpayers experience a loss when their main home sells for less than what they paid for it. This loss is not deductible.
Reported sale. Taxpayers who cannot exclude the gain from their income must report the sale of their home on a tax return. Taxpayers who choose not to claim the exclusion must report the gain on a tax return. Taxpayers who receive a Form 1099-S, Proceeds from Real Estate Transactions, as part of the real estate transaction must also report the sale on their tax return.
Mortgage debt. Some taxpayers must report forgiven or canceled debt as income on their tax return. This generally includes people who went through a mortgage workout, foreclosure, or other process in which a lender forgave or canceled mortgage debt on their home. Taxpayers who had a written agreement for the forgiveness of the debt in place before January 1, 2017, might be able to exclude the forgiven amount from income.
Possible exceptions. There are exceptions to these rules for persons with a disability, certain members of the military, intelligence community and Peace Corps workers, among others.
Worksheets. Worksheets included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, can help taxpayers figure the:
  • Adjusted basis of the home sold.
  • Gain or loss on the sale.
  • Excluded gain on the sale.
Multiple homes. Taxpayers who own more than one home can only exclude the gain on the sale of their main home. They must pay taxes on the gain from selling any other home.
Tax credit. Taxpayers who claimed the first-time homebuyer credit to purchase their home have special rules that apply to the sale. Taxpayers can use the First Time Homebuyer Credit Account Look-up to get account information, such as the total amount of their credit or repayment amount.

More Information:

IRS YouTube Videos:

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System: Taxpayer Bill of Rights #10

All taxpayers have the right to a fair and just tax system. This is one of 10 rights in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which clearly outline the fundamental rights of every taxpayer.
Here’s what the IRS wants all taxpayers to know about the right to a fair and just tax system:
  • Taxpayers have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect their tax liabilities, ability to pay or ability to provide information timely.
  • Taxpayers can receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they’re experiencing financial difficulty resolving their tax issues properly and timely through normal IRS channels. Taxpayers experiencing significant hardships because of IRS action or inaction may also be eligible for assistance from TAS.
  • Taxpayers who cannot pay their tax debt in full and meet certain conditions can arrange a payment plan with the IRS. This means the taxpayer will pay a set amount over time, generally monthly.
  • Taxpayers can submit an offer in compromise asking the IRS to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount if they:
    • Believe they don’t owe all or part of the tax debt
    • Are unable to pay all of the tax debt within the time permitted by law to collect
    • Have factors such as equity, hardship, or public policy they think the IRS should consider in determining whether to settle the liability
  • The IRS has a list of national and local guidelines covering the basic costs of living that it uses when considering a settlement offer reducing someone’s tax debt. IRS employees cannot use these guidelines if they would result in the taxpayer not having enough money to pay their basic living expenses. In these cases, the IRS will use the taxpayer’s actual expenses.
  • The IRS cannot seize all of someone’s wages to collect their unpaid tax. A portion is exempt from levy to allow the taxpayer to pay basic living expenses.
  • The IRS has the authority to decrease an excessive unpaid portion of any tax or liability assessed after the statutory period of limitations has expired or is erroneously or illegally assessed.
  • The IRS has the discretion to decrease interest on an underpayment when an IRS employee caused an unreasonable delay or error, and when no significant aspect of the error is attributed to the taxpayer.

IRS Offers Tips about Tips

Generally, income received in the form of tips is taxable. Here’s some information to help taxpayers correctly report the income they receive as a tip:
  • Use the Interactive Tax Assistant. The ITA tool is a tax-law resource that asks taxpayers a series of questions and provides a response based on the answers. Taxpayers can use Is My Tip Income Taxable?.
     
  • Show All Tips on a Tax Return. Use Form 4137, Social Security and Medicare Tax on Unreported Tip Income, to report the amount of any unreported tip income to include as additional wages. This includes the value of non-cash things someone receives as a tip, such as tickets or passes to an event.
     
  • Report All Types of Tips. Taxpayers must pay tax on all tips received during the year, including those:
    • Directly from customers.
    • Added to credit cards.
    • From a tip-splitting agreement with other employees.
       
  • Report Tips to an Employer. Employees who receive $20 or more in tips in any month must report their tips for that month to their employer by the 10th day of the next month, including cash, check and credit card tips received. The employer must withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes on the reported tips.
     
  • Keep a Daily Log of Tips. Use Publication 1244, Employee's Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer, to record tips. This will help report the correct amount of tips on a tax return.

Tips for Taxpayers Who Have to Amend a Tax Return

Taxpayers who discover they made mistakes or omissions on their tax return can correct them by filing an amended tax return. Those who need to amend should remember these tips:
  • File using paper form. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct the tax return. Taxpayers can’t file amended returns electronically. They can obtain the form on IRS.gov/forms. Mail the Form 1040X to the address listed in the form’s instructions.
  • Amend to correct errors. File an amended tax return to correct errors or make changes to an original tax return; for example, taxpayers should amend to change their filing status or to correct their income, deductions or credits.
  • Don’t amend for math errors, missing forms. Taxpayers generally don’t need to file an amended return to correct math errors on their original return. The IRS will automatically correct these items. In addition, taxpayers don’t need to file an amended return if they forgot to attach tax forms, such as a Form W-2 or a schedule. The IRS will mail a request to the taxpayer, if needed.
  • File within three-year time limit. Taxpayers usually have three years from the date they filed the original tax return to file Form 1040X to claim a refund. Taxpayers can file it within two years from the date they paid the tax, if that date is later.
  • Use separate forms for each year. Taxpayers who are amending more than one tax return must file a Form 1040X for each tax year. They should mail each year’s Form 1040X in separate envelopes to avoid confusion. Taxpayers should check the box for the calendar year or enter the other calendar year or fiscal year they are amending. The form’s instructions have the mailing address for the amended return.
  • Attach other forms with changes. Taxpayers who use other IRS forms or schedules to make changes must attach them to the Form 1040X.
  • Wait to file for corrected refund for tax year 2017. Taxpayers who are due refunds from their original tax year 2017 return should wait to get it before filing Form 1040X to claim an additional refund. Amended returns may take up to 16 weeks to process.
  • Pay additional tax. Taxpayers who will owe more tax should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to avoid penalties and interest. They should consider using IRS Direct Pay to pay any tax directly from a checking or savings account at no cost.
  • Track amended return. Generally, taxpayers can track the status of their amended tax return three weeks after they file, using ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ It’s available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. The tool can track the status of an amended return for the current year and up to three previous years. Taxpayers who have filed amended returns for multiple years can check each year, one at a time.

National Small Business Week: Remember to Check out these IRS.gov Resources

The 2018 National Small Business Week is April 29 through May 5. This is the perfect time for small business owners and the self-employed to check out many online products to help them understand their tax responsibilities.
Here are a few of the products in the spotlight for this year’s National Small Business Week:
  • Sharing Economy Tax Center. This web page provides fast answers to tax questions and links and forms about the sharing economy. People who are involved in the sharing economy are those who use online platforms to engage in businesses, such as renting a spare bedroom, providing car rides, and providing other goods and services. 
     
  • Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center. The Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center is a great resource for sole proprietors and others who are in business for themselves. This site has many handy tips and references to tax rules a self-employed person may need to know. Self-employed taxpayers will find information on topics, including how to make quarterly payments and business structures.
     
  • Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. This online information center features links to useful tools, including Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop and common IRS forms with instructions. Taxpayers can find help on everything from how to get an Employer Identification Number online to how to engage with the IRS during an audit. A link to the IRS Tax Calendar for Businesses and Self-Employed also provides at-a-glance key tax dates for businesses.

IRS Uses YouTube to Provide Tax Information to Small Business Owners

During National Small Business Week – and any time of the year – small business owners can visit the IRS channel to watch a series of videos that can help them navigate tax topics that affect their business.
The small business playlist on the official IRS YouTube channel features several videos that might be short, but that pack in a lot of helpful information. The videos walk business owners through topics such as:
YouTube is just one social media website the IRS uses to share important information about taxes. Visit the Social Media page on IRS.gov to connect with the IRS through other sites and apps.

Friday, March 16, 2018

IRS Can Help Taxpayers Get Form W-2

Most taxpayers got their Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, by the end of January. Taxpayers need their W-2s to file an accurate tax returns, as the form shows an employee’s income and taxes withheld for the year.
Taxpayers who haven’t received their W-2 by the end of February should:
  • Contact their Employer. Taxpayers should ask their current or former employer for a copy of their W-2. Be sure the employer has the correct address.
     
  • Call the IRS. Taxpayers who are unable to get a copy from their employer by the end of February may call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 for a substitute W-2. The IRS will send a letter to the employer on taxpayers’ behalf. When they call, taxpayers need their:
    • Name, address, Social Security number and phone number.
    • Employer’s name, address and phone number.
    • Employment dates.
    • Estimate of wages and federal income tax withheld in 2017. Use a final pay stub for these amounts.
       
  • File on Time. Taxpayers should file their tax return by April 17, 2018. If they still haven’t received their W-2, they should use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. They should estimate their wages and taxes withheld as best as possible. To request more time to file, they should use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File. Taxpayers can also e-file a request for more time using IRS Free File. Taxpayers should remember that an extension of time to file isn’t an extension of time to pay taxes owed. Taxpayers can also get an extension by paying all or part of their estimated income tax due, and indicate that the payment is for an extension using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or a credit or debit card. This way, the taxpayer won’t have to file a separate extension form and will receive a confirmation number for their records.
     
  • Correct a Tax Return, if Necessary. Taxpayers may need to correct their tax return. This could happen if they get a missing W-2 after they file. If the tax information on the W-2 is different from what they first reported, they may need to file an amended tax return. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to make the change.
All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income from last year’s tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

IRS Alerts Taxpayers about Refund Scam

The IRS warns taxpayers of a new twist on an old scam. Criminals are depositing fraudulent tax refunds into individuals’ actual bank accounts, then attempting to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers.
Here are the basic steps criminals follow to carry out this scam. The thief:
  • Hacks tax preparers’ computers to steal taxpayer data.
  • Uses the stolen information to file tax returns as the taxpayers.
  • Has refunds deposited into taxpayers’ bank accounts.
  • Contacts their victims, telling them the money was mistakenly deposited into their accounts and asking them to return it.
While the IRS is aware of variations of this scam, the agency also knows that this scam may continue to evolve. Here are two current versions of this scam:
  • Criminals pose as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS. The thief contacts the taxpayer to report an erroneous refund deposit and request that the taxpayer forward the money to the thief’s collection agency.
  • The taxpayer who received the erroneous refund gets an automated call with a recorded voice saying the caller is from the IRS. The recording threatens the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of his or her Social Security number. The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a phony case number and telephone number to call to return the refund.
Here are some things taxpayers should remember if someone contacts them about an erroneous refund:
  • There are established procedures taxpayers should follow to return erroneous funds to the IRS. Tax Topic Number 161 - Returning an Erroneous Refund has full details about how to return the money, including the actual mailing addresses where a taxpayer should send a paper check, if necessary. By law, interest may accrue on erroneous refunds.
  • The IRS encourages taxpayers to discuss the issue with their financial institutions because there may be a need to close bank accounts.
  • Taxpayers receiving erroneous refunds also should contact their tax preparers immediately.

The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard - Taxpayer Bill of Rights #4

Taxpayers have the right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard. This is one of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which clearly outline the fundamental rights of every taxpayer. The IRS wants to make sure taxpayers know about their rights when dealing with the agency.
Taxpayers have the right to:
  • Raise objections.
  • Provide additional documentation in response to formal or proposed IRS actions.
  • Expect the IRS to consider their objections timely.
  • Have the IRS consider any supporting documentation promptly.
  • Receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
Here are some specific things taxpayers can expect about the right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard.
  • In some cases, the IRS will notify a taxpayer that their tax return has a mathematical or clerical error. If this happens, the taxpayer:
    • Has 60 days to tell the IRS that they disagree.
    • Should provide copies of any records that may help correct the error.
    • May call the number listed on the letter or bill for assistance.
    • Can expect the agency to make the necessary adjustment to their account and send a correction if the IRS upholds the taxpayer’s position.
  • Here’s what will happen if the IRS does not agree with the taxpayer’s position:
    • The agency will issue a notice proposing a tax adjustment. This is a letter that comes in the mail.
    • This notice provides the taxpayer with a right to challenge the proposed adjustment.
    • The taxpayer makes this challenge by filing a petition in U.S. Tax Court. The taxpayer must generally file the petition within 90 days of the date of the notice, or 150 days if it is addressed outside the United States.
  • Taxpayers can submit documentation and raise objections during an audit. If the IRS does not agree with the taxpayer’s position, the agency issues a notice explaining why it is increasing the tax. Prior to paying the tax, the taxpayer has the right to petition the U.S. Tax Court, and challenge the agency’s decision.
  • In some circumstances, the IRS must provide a taxpayer with an opportunity for a hearing before an independent Office of Appeals. The agency must do this:
    • Before taking enforcement action to collect a tax debt. These actions include levying the taxpayer’s bank account.
    • Immediately after filing a notice of federal tax lien in the appropriate state filing location. If the taxpayer disagrees with the decision of the Appeals Office, they can petition the U.S. Tax Court.

Tax Filing Deadline is Soon, Remember Most Taxpayers Can File for Free

With April 17 tax filing deadline quickly approaching, the IRS reminds taxpayers that most of them qualify for free tax filing with IRS Free File. The special service is‎ available on IRS.gov and through the IRS2Go ‎mobile app. Both Android and iOS users can download this app. Taxpayers can use Free File to prepare and e-file their federal taxes either through brand-name software or using online fillable forms.
Here are the top ten facts about Free File:
  • Individuals or families with 2017 adjusted gross incomes of $66,000 or less can use Free File software.
  • There is no income limit to use Free File Fillable Forms, which are electronic versions of IRS paper forms.
  • Taxpayers can prepare their return at any time and schedule a tax payment as late as the April 17 deadline.
  • Taxpayers who cannot meet the April tax filing deadline can also use IRS Free File to request an automatic six-month extension. An extension gives them until Oct. 15, 2018, to file their return.
  • Each of the 12 commercial companies in the Free File Alliance has its own special offer.
  • Offers from software companies are generally based on age, income or state residency.
  • Taxpayers can review each company offer individually or the taxpayer can use a “Lookup” tool. This tool will help the taxpayer find the software for which they are eligible.
  • Some of the companies also offer free state return preparation.
  • Active duty military personnel with incomes of $66,000 or less may use any IRS Free File software product of their choice without regard to the criteria.
  • IRS Free File software does the work, including the math. It walks users through the tax preparation process using a series of questions while also helping to find tax changes that may affect their return.

Check Status of a Tax Refund in Minutes Using Where’s My Refund?

The Where's My Refund? tool gives taxpayers access to their tax return and refund status anytime. All they need is internet access and three pieces of information:
  • Their Social Security number.
  • Their filing status.
  • The exact whole dollar amount of their refund.
Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS received their e-filed return, or four weeks after they mail a paper return. Where’s My Refund? includes a tracker that displays progress through three stages: the IRS receives the tax return, then approves the refund, and sends the refund.
Where’s My Refund? updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight. Taxpayers should remember that checking the status more often will not produce new results. Taxpayers on the go can track their return and refund status on their mobile devices using the free IRS2Go app. Those who file an amended return should check out the Where’s My Amended Return? tool. 
Generally, the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, but some may take longer. IRS phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of refunds only if it's been 21 days or more since a taxpayer filed electronically, or more than six weeks since they mailed a paper return. Taxpayers can also contact the IRS if Where's My Refund? directs them to do so.
There is a misconception that a tax transcript can help taxpayers determine the status of their refund. The information included on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. Transcripts are best used to validate past income and tax filing status for loan applications, and to help with tax preparation.

Taxpayers Should Report Name Changes Before Filing Taxes

When a taxpayer changes their name, that change can affect their taxes. All the names on a taxpayer’s tax return must match Social Security Administration records. A name mismatch can delay a tax refund. Here’s what a taxpayer should do if anyone listed on their tax return changed their name:
  • Reporting Taxpayer’s Name Change. Taxpayers who should notify the SSA of a name change include:
    • Taxpayers who got married and use their spouse’s last name.
    • Recently married taxpayers who now use a hyphenated name.
    • Divorced taxpayers who now use their former last name.

  • Reporting Dependent’s Name Change. Taxpayers should notify the SSA if a dependent’s name changed.  This includes an adopted child who now has a new last name. If the child doesn’t have a Social Security number, the taxpayer may use a temporary Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number on the tax return. Taxpayers can apply for an ATIN by filing a Form W-7A.

  • Getting a New Social Security Card. Taxpayers who have a name change should get a new card that reflects a name change. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. Taxpayers can get the form on SSA.gov or by calling 800-772-1213.
More Information:
Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions
IRS YouTube Videos: 
Changed Your Name after Marriage or Divorce? – EnglishSpanish | ASL

The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum — Taxpayer Bill of Rights #5

Taxpayers have the right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum. This is one of ten basic rights — known collectively as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights — that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS.
The IRS Office of Appeals that handles a taxpayer’s case must be separate from the IRS office that initially reviewed that case. Generally, Appeals will not discuss a case with the IRS to the extent that those communications appear to compromise the independence of Appeals.
Here are some points to remember about the right to appeal a decision in an independent forum:
  • A statutory notice of deficiency is an IRS letter proposing additional tax. Taxpayers who receive this notice and who then timely file a petition with the United States Tax Court may dispute the proposed adjustment before they must pay the tax.
     
  • Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties.
     
  • Taxpayers have the right to receive a written response regarding a decision from the IRS Office of Appeals.
     
  • When taxpayers don’t agree with the IRS’s decisions, they can refer to Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How To Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree, for details on how to appeal.
     
  • Generally, taxpayers may file a refund suit in a United States district court or the United States Court of Federal Claims if:
    • They have fully paid the tax and the IRS has denied their tax refund claim.
    • No action is taken on the refund claim within six months.
    • It’s been less than two years since the IRS mailed them a notice denying the refund.

Don’t Fall for Scam Calls and Emails Impersonating IRS

Scammers and cyberthieves continue to use the IRS as bait. The most common tax scams are phone calls and emails from thieves who pretend to be from the IRS. Scammers use the IRS name, logo, fake employee names and badge numbers to try to steal money and identities from taxpayers.
Taxpayers need to be wary of phone calls or automated messages from someone who claims to be from the IRS. Often, these criminals will say taxpayers owe money and demand payment right away. Other times, scammers will lie to taxpayers and say they’re due a refund. The thieves ask for bank account information over the phone. The IRS warns taxpayers not to fall for these scams.
Below are several tips that will help filers avoid becoming a scam victim.
IRS employees will not:
  • Call demanding an immediate payment. The IRS won’t call taxpayers if they owe taxes without first sending a bill in the mail.
  • Demand payment without allowing taxpayers to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Demand that taxpayers pay their taxes in a specific way, such as with a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to contact local police or similar agencies to arrest taxpayers for non-payment of taxes.
  • Threaten legal action, such as a lawsuit.
If taxpayers don’t owe or don’t think they owe any tax, and they receive an inquiry like this, they should:
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
  • Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your report.
In most cases, an IRS phishing scam is an unsolicited, fake email that claims to come from the IRS. Some emails link to sham websites that look real. The scammers’ goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If the thieves get what they’re after, they use it to steal a victim’s money and identity.

For those taxpayers who get a phishing email, the IRS offers this advice:
  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.